What to pack for your Caribbean holiday trip: The ultimate smart packing guide

Whether you’ve planned out the ultimate Caribbean holiday or you plan on going island hopping in Greece, you must consider protection from the heat and sun when you pack. Apart from that, you should also be prepared to play and party.

Packing for your trip is a key component in enjoying your holiday. You don’t want to head to an island without a swimsuit and you don’t want to arrive in your hotel and realize you left your wallet at home. This ultimate packing guide is going to help you avoid completely preventable packing mistakes.

What you should bring

Starting from the fundamentals, what must you bring on an island trip? Consider your travel essentials and packing gear.

These will help you keep everything organized and reduce the chances of you forgetting crucial stuff:

  • Travel documents: your valid international passport, plane ticket, boarding pass, and driving license should be properly kept in a secure and easily accessible location. If you’re traveling to an island that requires a visa, make sure you have this in your passport beforehand. If you are on any medication, make sure you pack photocopies of your prescriptions too.
  • Full-sized suitcase: make sure you have a sturdy suitcase that fits the dimensions required by the airline you will be using. Suitcases with wheels are always a better choice as different parts of your trip might include long walks. You don’t want to carry your bags to your room if you’re staying at a big villa or resort.
  • Toiletry bag: you will pack the usual travel toiletries here like toothbrush, deodorant, and razors. Because the hot almost always leads to chapped lips in the tropics, you want to include lip balm to that bag. Baby powder for the beach will help you avoid chaffing.
  • Carry-on bag: the exterior pocket of your carry-on bag is usually the best place for your travel documents to stay. Also carry your toiletry bag, a bathing suit and one set of clothes in case your luggage is delayed. You’re not expecting your luggage to go missing but you don’t want to waste any time meant for enjoying your holiday by waiting for your bags to arrive before the enjoyment starts. Don’t forget small bills for cabs and tips. You might not have to exchange your money since the US dollar is widely accepted.
  • Extra bags: additional bags like totes and zip locks practically weigh nothing but can come in very handy. For example, dirty laundry is usually an afterthought on holidays but having extra bags means you can handle it.

what to bring to Caribbean holiday

Outfits to pack

You’re not going to pack your best outfits or half of your closet. The clothes you need on an island will probably be very different from what you wear every day in your hometown.


  • Underwear and socks. Bring some extras to change on very hot days.
  • Two or more pairs of khaki, cotton or linen pants. These dry quicker and are lighter than denim pants.
  • T-shirts in your favourite colours.
  • Many shorts that can be used as swimsuits in short notice.
  • A light jacket for extremely air-conditioned restaurants, lobbies and cold evenings.

For men

  • Collared shirts. Choose some with simple patterns and light colors. You can wear them at day, night or under a suit jacket for a nice dinner.

For women

  • A nice evening dress so you are prepared to dress up for a nice dinner.
  • Capri pants. Some islands have rules against very skimpy shorts and bikini outfits. Capri pants will be a good replacement in such a case.
  • Skip expensive jewelry. If you must bring your valuable jewelry pieces along, lock them away in your hotel safe when not in use.


  • Sandals or flip flops for everyday use.
  • Tennis shoes for when you don’t want to leave your toes out.
  • Water shoes for exploring slippery areas or you might have to rent a pair when you need them.
  • Dressy shoes for evenings and dinners.

Beach necessities

  • Two or more swimsuits. You don’t want to be stuck waiting for your swimsuit to dry because you only brought one pair.
  • UV sunglasses and waterproof sunscreen of SPF30 and above for sun blocking.
  • A sarong and a brimmed hat, also for protection from the sun.
  • Aloe vera to help soothe sunburns.

Other gear

  • If you plan to use a dedicated camera for photos and videos, make sure to pack it in a protective case. Bring enough storage memory since they can be expensive on tourist islands.
  • Bring your snorkel gear if you don’t want to rent. You might not have enough space for tennis racquets and golf clubs so be prepared to rent those if you must play.

packing list for holidays

Essential packing tips

Do you have trouble packing even when you know exactly what should go in the box? Don’t give up now, there are smart ways to get the job done. Because these tips include everything from the obvious hints to unconventional hacks, you’re sure to get your packing right this time around.

Here’s a valuable list of tips for packing your bag:

  • Use a packing list: using a packing list doesn’t make you a wannabe perfectionist, it just means you’re planning to get it right. It is very common and easy to forget things a few days to your trip. A checklist will help you stay organized. You can print one off the internet if you’re too lazy to make one yourself. Go through your list a night before your trip to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
  • Switch full size for mini size: there is no need to bring a full-sized bottle. Trips like these are why travel size products were invented. If you don’t want to purchase mini duplicates of all the products you already have, buy a set of reusable travel bottles and reduce your products. Silicone bottles are usually leak-proof and also don’t cost a lot of money.
  • Separate the liquids: you never know when a bottle will begin to leak or straight out explode from heat or pressing. Isolate all your liquids in a zip lock or clear toiletry bag to avoid and/or limit possible damage. You should invest in a reusable bag for this. They tend to be sturdier and last longer than one-time use options.
  • Don’t carry it if it’s a ‘just in case’ item: the case you’re anticipating will most probably not happen. Leaving out such items will give you more space, less luggage weight and eliminate the trouble of dealing with them. Don’t forget the island you’re traveling to has stores you can shop from and if the case happens, you’re still covered anyway.
  • Roll your clothes: if you never heard of this absolute game-changer, thank your lucky stars you found it just in time. Rolling your clothes will help keep wrinkles out of them and also help save space in your suitcase. This technique is even more effective when you include the use of compression bags or packing cubes. Packing cubes are not only reusable, but they also help keep your stuff organized as you save space for more essentials to fit in.
  • Pack essentials in your carry-on:
  • Pick what you need and downsize: it might sound insane to downsize after choosing what you need but this tip always works. Many of us are hardwired to overpack.  It could be excitement or over planning, but we often think we ‘need’ many things on a holiday only to come back from the trip with half of those things untouched. This might be a painful step but trust the process and you will cut down the junk so you’re only traveling with real essentials you will use.
  • Wear bulky items to travel: it’s very smart to dress in your bulkiest clothing while you travel. This will save you space and contribute to lighter luggage. For example, if you are bringing a waterproof jacket on your island trip (because it rains quite often on islands), put that on with any other jacket and wear your heaviest shoes to keep these items out of your suitcase.
  • Leave some extra space: this tip is often left out but is one of the most important. You must assume you will buy some things on your trip and come home with souvenirs. It’ll be a very terrible thing to buy a lot of things you like and not have enough space to carry them all home.

There you have it, a wealth of island packing smartness squished into one article just for you. Whatever island you’re vacationing on, we’re sure you’re going to have a great time. Use this packing guide to pack light for better mobility and get immersed in the culture of the land you’re visiting.

We hope you found this helpful and will share it with your group of friends before you take off for your trip.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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